Generally speaking a probate lawyer is an estate lawyer that works to advise or to represent a personal representative which is also known as executors, and the beneficiaries of an estate on matters and final affairs of a deceased person. Simply put, when a person dies, his assets will be given to the decided beneficiaries and there will also be someone who is appointed to administer the assets, this person is called as personal representative or executor. However, before these assets can be distributed, every matters and affairs of the deceased person is handled by a probate lawyer. Even though lawyers are not legally needed, but they are essential for probate process. This is because, laymen do not know how to handle a probate, and non-lawyers can easily do something wrong.
This lawyer is responsible for taking a personal representative through the process of probate from start until the end. However, the step involve usually depends on the law of probate in the state where he died and owned properties. This means that a probate lawyer needs to have vast knowledge about probate laws not just in one state but also other states.
Before process of probate is started, question to ask is whether the decedent left or died testate, which means he died with a will or whether he died intestate, meaning without a will.
Other than that, a probate lawyer has the responsibility to advise the beneficiary of an estate on matters presented by the personal representative during the process of probate. This often happens in the case where the beneficiary does not know the personal representative, or does not get along well with them. The responsibility of the probate lawyer is to advise the client on matters regarding;
- Locating assets and non-probate assets;
- Keep in track the checking account of the estate;
- Determine if any estate taxes will be due;
- Addressing income tax issues;
- Settling matters and disputes between executors and beneficiaries;
- Assisting with the sale of estate property; and
- Distributing what is left of the assets to the beneficiaries after paying bills and taxes.
He will also handle other required proceedings in court. For instance, he may file or defend a will contest to decide who becomes executor. He deals with creditors’ claims and also gives notice to creditors, and heirs, beneficiaries, and other people who are entitled to receive notice of the probate. After all administrative tasks have been completed, probate lawyer will prepare and file a petition for final distribution. This petition is a report to the court what the personal representative has done during his term of administration. The final petition accounts to the heirs for the assets and money that have come into the personal representative’s hands. Finally, the lawyer will ask the court for an order authorizing and directing the personal representative to distribute the property according to the terms of the will. A will and probate lawyer can solve all these problems of yours.